Van Canto has carved out a nice career over five albums with their brand of a Capella vocal music led power metal. I’m sure some people will just click the back button right now. But if a Capella vocal music and power metal have you intrigued, read on. I’m sure to some when the band arrived in 2006, they seemed like a novelty act. Van Canto takes themselves seriously, but they are also phenomenal musicians who have gradually grown into their own skin as artists. The full realization of that vision comes through on Voices of Fire (earMUSIC) which is a concept album. Created side-by side with German fantasy novelist German bestseller author Christoph Hardebusch (Die Trolle), Hardebushch’s new novel is the source material for the story of the album. Both projects complement each other. Feuerstimmen (Piper Verlag) by Hardebusch releases on March 17th. The audio book version, along with Voices of Fire is included an will be released on the same day.
Set in a world not unlike most popular fantasy realms found in The Lord of The Rings or A Game of Thrones, the epic story unfolds over the course of the album. Narrated superbly by John Rys-Davies (The Indiana Jones Trilogy, The Lord of The Rings Trilogy, Shogun), from the first words to the last notes the album compelling, and never dull. Waring kingdoms, quests for power, fire-breathing dragons, and the songs of bards (a frequent touch point for this band) all factor into the narrative. The story alone is an intoxicating bit of drama.
As for the musical and vocal performances, beyond drummer Bastian Emig, it Is the five singing members of Van Canto who perform all the instrumentation and vocals. For the most part they are spot on. I can see detractors imaging Beavis And Butthead mimicking the crunch of guitar riffs, but think about the talent and discipline it takes to pull this off? The lead vocals are excellent, especially in ‘Clashings On Armour Plates’, ‘Battleday’s Dawn’, and on ‘We Are One’.London Metro Voices (Lord Of The Rings) provided the choir performances.
The musical theater vibe may feel odd to some. For all the many concept records in the genre, this has never really been attempted or achieved to this level until now. I think those specific tracks will work better live. This is a leap forward for the Van Canto and for power metal.
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